Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This Is Too Hard

Okay. Re-entry into the real world has been tough after a few days of doing nothing.

I have let myself get so stressed out over the smallest things that I am now no longer enjoying my day but fretting over the things I have yet to do. Which are many. But whose life is different, really? Who gets to the end of the day and is able to say I have accomplished everything. (If this is you, then we need to meet.)

And now, even though I have been meaning to sit down and write out my thoughts, I don't even know what they are, besides sometimes I would like to get rid of my kids. 

I had plenty of time over the last several days to contemplate things like why am I sometimes such a difficult person, and then I got stuck on that and never really contemplated much else. I feel like that maybe I do things on purpose just to cause a fracas. I'm not sure why this is, but I am certain it is part of my DNA and probably cannot be changed. I am also certain I make excuses for myself when I feel convicted over things.

I also had some time to contemplate, for whatever reason, that hazy aftermath that made up the months after my mom's death. It was May of 2006, and we had just moved from my beloved and charming 1950's city home to a new house in my same hometown. Not only had my mom died the month before, but I loved my neighbors and didn't want to leave them. I was positive my new neighbors wouldn't even be nice. That same month, we were celebrating my youngest baby's first birthday, and my younger sister had just graduated from college. Plus, we were all prepped and ready to go to the beach. I didn't really want to be a part of any of it. In fact, I really did not even care. My very soul felt dark and heavy. And sad.

Beach houses are a curious anomaly to me. From the outside, you have this dazzling, fourteen bedroom mansion, and on the inside, it looks like someone threw up starfish and seafoam green and flowers. I understand that it's a rental and it should only be but so nice (which in normal conversation would lead me to a discourse on respecting property, but I'll save you the pain) but when the built-in shelving around the unused fireplace is chaotic, it bothers me. So I expressed my heavy soul in a most unique way in May 2006.

I redecorated. Yes. The beach house.  (Free of charge. You're welcome, yellow beach house owners.)

Our friends looked on as if everyone who visits a beach house during the month of May revamps the shelves and tables in the living room. My husband was just trying to survive a trip with a one-year-old, a three-year-old, a wackadoodle wife, the wackadoodle wife's sister and two of her friends, another family, and their own small kids.

It was an interesting week. And those shelves looked good.

I didn't know anything about God in 2006. Of course, I knew who He was. I had grown up in church and learned the Southern Baptist Way. But I didn't really know Him. So I relied on other things to help me struggle through the pain and grief.

Last night during dinner, the kids got out our conversation starter cards. If you don't have them, google them. It's fun to hear (when they can be serious) what other people really would do or think or feel. The question that got me last night was "what is the hardest thing you've ever had to do?" Some kids could answer that question with a raw truth, but mine can't. They've never been through anything truly hard, other than science homework or learning to meet someone new. My husband said parenting, and I agree. Marriage and parenting are two of the hardest things that I didn't anticipate actually being hard. But my answer was simple. The hardest thing I've ever had to do is just say goodbye.

Sometimes it's saying goodbye to a relationship that you know will never rekindle. Sometimes it's saying goodbye to a good friend who will probably never move back to the house next door. Sometimes it's a little more permanent, and the goodbye is not one you want to have to say, and you'd do anything to take it back, to have one more day, one more conversation, one last hug.

On the surface, I can be a fairly superficial girl. Would I rather be a poor scientist who finds a cure for cancer or be a wealthy Hollywood starlet who is famous? Weeellll...I mean, sometimes, I'd just rather be the famous starlet. (I am quite fascinated by celebrities, not quite to the point of Perez Hilton, though.) Being superficial isn't really me, it's just my way of not having to deal. I don't like to be sentimental and I hate sappy emotionalism. So I don't tend to dwell on the things that make me sad.

Like saying goodbye.

But I miss my sister, who lives four hours away, and who will likely never live next door like we planned all those years ago. And I miss my friend, who has moved to New York and unless some sort of miracle happens, will probably not move back into my neighborhood. And I miss my in-town friend, who used to live next door but we've moved and they've moved and now our visits are few and far between. And I really miss my mom, whose face I searched for in crowds for the year or two after her death, all the while knowing and telling myself girl, you're crazy. She's not here. 

The truth is, there is a narrow band of time that redecorating the shelves soothes my aching soul, but then I have to deal again. I didn't know how to deal in 2006. I redecorated. (A lot.) But it was like swimming in the same eddy and not knowing how to get out. It was at that point that the God I knew about and the God who is my God collided. My world just about blew up, and I had a choice to make. This churchy God I had heard and learned about, or this real God who could take my ashes and turn them into a crown of beauty?

I had to get out of the eddy. So I made the choice for life.

...and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on the a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.
{isaiah 61:3}

Faith isn't so much about convincing other people that you are right, or even trying to prove something, as it is about giving credit where credit is due. (Or, as some more scholarly than I might put it, giving God glory.) Sometimes I get stressed out about the little things, and I forget what God has done for me--and in the grand scheme of life, most of what I get stressed out about are little things. Sometimes it's good to take a look around and remember that He has actually taken my mourning and given me the oil of joy.

Life has not worked out according to plan. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. (Oy vey, is it hard.) Lately, I've been caught up in how hard it is. I'm afraid. Will everything turn out okay? Nothing guarantees that life will not be hard.

But He guarantees to take every step with me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Communicate, People. And don't be narrow-minded, either.

Hey!

I'm taking a little summer hiatus for the rest of this week, and then again in about a week and a half from now. Sometimes a girl and her family need a reboot. But before I go, here's something to chew on from my AFAA training on stress:

During many conversations, people may have  totally opposing points of view. It is these encounters with others that are found to be the most stressful. Physiologically, just the act of talking raises blood pressure and heart rate (Nathan, Staats, & Rosch, 1986). When another person doesn't see things as we do, the common reaction is to feel threatened and become defensive. If we continue to react in this manner, it becomes easy to draw battle lines and have the relationship degenerate into "us" against "them" (Kabat-Zinn, 1991).

When we limit ourselves to narrow thinking and restricted mind-sets, it is difficult to see another's point-of-view. However, when we learn to expand the communication by looking at each person's viewpoint, we begin to see the entire picture. Then extraordinary new possibilities emerge as imaginary but all-too-limiting boundaries in the mind dissolve. (Kabat-Zinn, 1991).

I'll catch up with yall next Monday. Have a great week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Heartily Pursue Life

It was a last-minute decision, but the timing was right, and I got to see my sister over the weekend. (Pic to come.)

Best. Weekend. Ever

Except for the fact that Friday was my anniversary, and I didn't actually get to see my husband on that day. But we texted "Happy Anniversary!" to each other and avoided that flowery yet awkwardly sentimental, gushy (with way TMI) anniversary FaceBook post about being married to the most wonderful person on the planet, followed by the ever-popular I love you so much (fill in the blank with individual's entire given name and many, many exclamation points). I don't look at FaceBook very much any more because those posts are too lovey-dovey for me, and also because of the people that feel the need to expose the bloody, really gross injury they recently sustained or the bug bite they recently got along with the caption Anybody recognize what could have given me this bite??????? They really, really annoy me. And P.S., that is really gross. FB posts should not make a person's stomach turn. 

A well-organized utensil drawer just makes life better.
I'll admit I'm not a nurturing nor very sentimental person. My sister says I used to be (a non-sentimental person certainly does not keep boyfriend boxes, she says--which I don't have anymore, by the way) and therefore that sentimental, compassionate side must be hiding somewhere inside of me, but has been covered with a black heart. 

I am trying to be more of a glass-half-full person, and in the company of other people, I usually am. But what I verbalize to others and what I think inside my own head are two entirely different things when it comes to the whole "I'm a glass-half-full kinda gal". I'm also working on being thankful for things like life, but sometimes I don't like how I choose to live life (being the Type A person that I am, I tend to get stressed about things like utensil organization) and I am not thankful for anything. I spent the entire trip to her house pondering this part of me. I can do better, I decided. (Obviously, doing better will not be a feat I can accomplish on my own. But I have a willing heart, and that's a good start.) 

I might have to go back and get this sign--I need to see that everyday!
I found this little sign at the store the other day, and it made me think that maybe I don't pursue life heartily enough, but instead just get bogged down and aggravated by it all. And when I'm aggravated, I have a difficult time keeping it to myself. I'd like everyone to know that having a well-organized kitchen is stressful and why can't you understand that THINGS ON THE ISLAND THAT ARE NOT KITCHEN-SPECIFIC ITEMS BOTHER ME?????? 

I freely admit it. I have some work to do.

We went to IKEA on Saturday afternoon. So did a million other cheap-furniture-loving people. Have I told you? I. LOVE. IKEA. We walked the entire store. Upstairs and down. This store had shortcuts, but we didn't take any, no ma'am. All or none, that's us. By the time we had followed all those white arrows down the concrete-brick road, I had been reduced to talking into a watering can so it amplified my voice and wandering aimlessly around the garden section, trying to find my way out. However, I came out of that place with some finds, which makes for a very happy me. (When I didn't find something I liked, it made me wonder why and if the decorating part of my brain had dried up.) 

Jonathan was not fond of the mirror I found for our bedroom, and the look on his face said I don't know what kinky* things you got into at IKEA, but this whole mirror beside the bed thing doesn't work for me. I'm asking him to give it a try. 




Now this is going to have to change...

*There was nothing happening at IKEA beside the Woman In The Short Skirt, who was no spring chicken, and it was literally the shortest skirt I've ever seen on anybody in real life. PLUS, it had an on-purpose hole in it right at the crease between her thigh and her behind, so you could see the bottom of her cheek. Honestly, you couldn't help but stare. Which I'm sure many people did. (I think that's what she was going for.) And I think my mouth may have been open. (For two thirty-somethings traveling in a sensible SUV who wear short khakis and maxi dresses to IKEA, this was certainly something.)

He also had questions like what is wrong with our current utensil drawer and what is wrong with the watering can we already have and I know he had lots of thoughts that weren't being expressed at the time, as I was busily organizing at 9:30PM. I think he is scared of walking into the kitchen and not knowing where anything is located. This happens periodically, and when it does, I use post-it notes and arrows. 

CUPS---->
PLATES <------ nbsp="" p="">
(What is up? What does this mean? Why can't I get it to go away? ALL I WANT ARE ARROWS.)

You get the picture. Any anyways, only several drawers are getting reorganized, as it has taken me several years to get the cabinets organized and labeled. (You already knew this about me. Obviously they are labeled. How would anybody know how to put things back????)

ahhh...labels


After IKEA, we went to Target. A dream day of dream shopping. Men all over are sighing in relief that this was not them. 

In order to enjoy my trip, though, I had to get my heart right with God. Because as exciting (for me, anyway) as a new mirror is, nothing works when I'm far away from His presence. The trip to was good for me. I turned the radio off and just pondered. A word from Priscilla Shirer helped. 

Because life is more than thoughtlessly navigating the white arrows of IKEA, wondering at every turn if you're doing it right. Or if you're even in the right spot. 

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
{john 10:10}

Jesus promises an abundant life, and let me tell you, Target and IKEA offer abundance. But that sort of abundance tends to be overwhelming, and the excitement always wears off. Always. Sometimes I wish it wasn't like that, but if having something that was always exciting filled your life, you probably wouldn't sense the desperate need for Jesus. 

When I started thinking about what it was in life that I really wanted, it didn't have anything to do with mirrors or utensils or {gasp} perfect organization. It had to do with joy and laughter and love and life. And heartily pursuing it, and loving it, and letting go of the things that hinder me--things like perfection, and anger, and anxiety. They cramp my style AND my creativity, and create a viciously cruel cycle that is hard to stop.

with God all things are possible.
{jesus}

I've always remembered this verse as one that didn't make sense to me. I mean, one of my secret dreams has always been to fly. You know, like a bird. And I think that man has discovered that even in 2015, this is an impossible dream. (And besides, I'm scared of heights, so flying probably wouldn't even be that fun for me.) How can things that are impossible for me be possible?

You know I love to decorate. So. Much. Fun. Well, yeah, I guess it's obvious, I also like to write. (The humpty dance is your chance to do the hump...) And I love to be creative in both. But when my mind is so full of angst and anger and negative thoughts, being creative is impossible for me. I'll sit and stare and waste time and get pissed and stare some more, then throw my hands up in the air and go--well, I say things I won't repeat.

I am an angry person. I hold grudges for longer than normal people do and then I grow bitter and stubborn, and I think "I will not allow so-and-so to ever get to me again ever for the rest of the future of earth and then I'll stay away from them in heaven too which won't be a problem because they obviously won't be there". (Angry people tend to blow things out of proportion, especially on the whole "I'm deciding who goes to heaven" thing.) I'm sure dealing with me sometimes is peachy and fun. And I find it near impossible to find my voice and say what is bothering me, leading to all sorts of issues. I'm talking like bitterness and depression, my friends. Is-sues

And I think that's where God is headed in my life when he talks about things that are impossible for man being possible with God. I can be a person who uses her voice, who is assertive, and who doesn't hold grudges or anger or bitterness or defeat (which doesn't look good on anybody, according to the Dowager Countess). And it's not my own doing, because 38 years of experience tells me what my tenancies are. 

It's God. 

So on the drive back from my sister's house, I started by asking for a better way to deal with anger. A way to let go of what's bothering me now. A way to start fresh, today, no regrets. I asked for a voice so I could express myself in a mature way without that passive-aggressive nature I expect from myself. I asked for Him to unlock my compassion (good luck) and my creativity, and my joy and my love. 

I asked Him to help me heartily pursue life.

I've allowed my joy to be stolen, my peace to be killed, and the intent is for my heart to be destroyed. But He can change all of that. I want my peace back. I want my joy back.

Abundant life can be mine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's Over

Now that baseball is over, we are settling into the lazy, gentle rhythms of summer.

Except no one wants the lazy, gentle rhythms of anything. We are bored, mom. We want entertainment, mom. The pool is boring, mom. We want you to do something about it, mom. We don't like anything you suggest, mom. 

I'm done.

There are the Good Parents out there, the ones who live in neighborhoods with kids (a source of contention amongst my people--we are working on being CONTENT--see below post), the ones who casually mention trips to Hawaii and Barbados. (It's not about money and things, it's about experiences.) You are The Ones who know Bad Parents like me aren't requiring daily math sheets and homework pages and book reports. Or maybe you know I require it but don't necessarily check behind them all the time, bringing a certain irreverence to the whole learning situation. You know who you are, Good Parents, because you toss these things out like bones to a dog, knowing that when you do, the Bad Parents will feel inferior to you. As we should. Our kid's brains are turning to mush, while yours are studying college-level statistics. 

I'm such a mean mom, we require Sammy to do 15 math pages and take an old SOL test before he can go outside and play. And that's just on Monday!!!  You are enthusiastic about homework. So are your kids. Then you insert a tinkling laugh and an flick of your wrist, because you know. You know you are officially a Good Parent. 

While walking the other day, Jon mentioned to me that he thought we should require our own kids to read books and then do a one-page book report. The details haven't been hashed out. Monthly? Weekly? DAILY? Because we aim high in this house, and a daily book report would kick everybody else's required summer book reports out of the @#%$ water. Because this is no longer about our kids.  Nah. This is a full-on parenting competition. 

I, of course, was immediately defensive of our time at home, with oh, but they have chores and I have to teach classes and we have so many other things going on flying out of my mouth. Not excuses. Reasons. 

Now we are half-way through the summer and even though Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry has been read, Where the Red Fern Grows is patiently waiting for a certain girl to crack open it's pages. 

It's time to get serious.

The appliance repair man will not make an appointment with me to have my ice maker fixed. He will call the morning of the day I thought I might have free and tell me the hours he thinks he might be there so I can be sure to wait. He called yesterday at 9AM to let me know he would be there between 11AM and 1PM. Which, of course, didn't work for us. So when I asked if I could, like, somehow make an appointment, he declined my request, informing me that it would require them to "run all over the place" if they were to do that. And apparently in the appliance-repair line of work, running all over the place to fix ice makers is unacceptable.  In my mind, an appointment works a lot better. In his mind, a span of time where he might show up works better. He won. So now he is coming over sometime on Thursday between the hours of 12PM and 4PM. "But I have to leave right at 4PM," I warned him. So you can't come at 4, right. You have to come before 4. "I think we might be able to work with that." He was cheerful. And non-committal. And I started wondering what people who are required to be present at their full-time jobs do when their ice makers break and the appliance-repair man won't make a date with you. Maybe he saw Monday's post and decided makeup-free wasn't the right look for his image.

My daughter asks me every single, ever-lovin' DAY for a phone of her own. (Because when you're on the verge of turning 30, a phone is an appropriate purchase.) Sometimes she asks multiple times a day. And every time we pass by the Verizon store, she asks if we can go to Verizon and buy her a phone. Because it would be that simple. 

Yesterday, I had to shut. It. Down. I am of the personal opinion that many 12YO (going on 30 as it may be) people are not responsible enough for a phone. "And anyways," I told her. "You have an iPod, and the only thing a phone would do that it doesn't is call people." She gave me a withering you just don't get it look, turned her head away and became very offended over the fact that an iPod simply is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  "I am SO EMBARRASSED I CAN'T EVEN GIVE PEOPLE MY PHONE NUMBER," she informed me. Actually, she's told me this several times, but I have been able to successfully ignore the implications thus far. Because we have this ancient apparatus called a land-line phone, which I know are few and far between these days, making it a relic, BUT the good news is YOU DO HAVE A PHONE NUMBER. And you are allowed to use the phone. For free! But she is a stubborn girl, and so far has refused to call people in protest. Leaving her plenty of time for Where the Red Fern Grows and book reports, one might reason. Somehow these get overlooked for moodiness and stomping, the equivalent to modern-day picketing. Meanwhile, the old, dried-up sandwich crusts that I recently termed "roach food", because I was hoping the threat of possible bugs sneaking into the room and snacking on old sandwich crusts would cause swift action, but alas, they still reside on the bedside table where they were discarded. And I think roach food and phones go hand-in-hand, I do. 

It's over. 

What's over, you ask.

Everything.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hope

In a series of unfortunate and annoying events that began with the dog who lives across the way using it's free time outside to bark unceasingly (leading me to wonder if I just put a tape recording of myself yelling the same thing over and over again--YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO--what would happen?), I discovered that there are pieces missing from my repertoire of makeup. Leading me to think back on one of the worst parody videos ever made on purpose.

I don't wear much makeup on a regular basis. This is me completely makeup free:

Hm.

Of course I tried different filters. This one makes me look weird and creepy.
And freckly. OHMIGOSH the freckles.

And then there is the "oh! I didn't realize you were taking a picture of me" selfie,
which I rock. Obvs. I'm willing to make fun of myself. 

The KimK selfie shot was an obvious choice. Just call me Keather.

This is me after some concealer, which is all I wore today. (I'm teaching a class. Makeup is not a necessity. Nobody cares.) I don't really look all that different.

Eh.
And also why do iPhone cameras make your head look so big? Apple really should fix that.


A few observations:
1. I hate 98% of the pictures taken of me. (I had a good picture moment in 2012. That's it.)
2. A person shouldn't look totally different with makeup on. But this...
3. Celebrities who post "makeup free" selfies are lying.
4. I really hate my face when my bangs are pulled straight back, so I really hate these pictures.
5. WHERE DID THOSE LINES COME FROM?

Can you pick me out of this beautiful line-up?


Most of the time I think men have it a lot easier when it comes to looks, because they can get ready in 23 minutes flat (UNLESS you are Adam Lambert, the prettiest man I have ever laid eyes on. I think it might take him a while to get ready), shower to fully dressed, while I am still looking at another 45 minutes of makeup and blow-drying and flat-ironing and matching belts with earrings with shoes. In fact, I take so much care with my appearance that some days, when my hair is shoved up in a pony-bun and I have not even washed my face, I really dislike my whole look. Like a lot. But instead of dismissing it as just another thought, I dwell and obsess over my clear lack of beauty. Then I get sad. And it all goes downhill from there.


Beauty is one of the top ten most common insecurities among women, and I can relate. There is something mysterious and magical about beauty, something it seems like others have but we never will. Sometimes I know what I want to say in my heart but have no idea how to convey that into logical thoughts that you can read. The fact that my heart is so tangled up with the concept of beauty is old news. The constant push and pull that I feel to look good (whatever that means) is so heavy, such a monochrome presence in my day-to-day, that I don't even know what life would look like without it.

I looked around church on Sunday, while the offering was being passed, and couldn't help but notice (with some antipathy) that everyone seemed very smiley. And even though I grew up in church and should by this point in my life be used to the shiny, happy people, I couldn't help but wonder, like, what is up with all the smiling. The ushers were smiling at the parishioners who were smiling at each other. I noticed with some aversion that one woman was smiling at no one. Just smiling. Happy to be alive and at church on a Sunday morn. (Part of my hostility stemmed from the two unhappy, unsmiley, unshiny mini-people sitting next to me. And the other part is just because I am a cynic. Apparently in more than one way.) Are we really happy? Or do we simply trade in the glowers and knit brows for a really wide smile on Sunday morning? Because my issues do not go away just because the Sabbath has rolled around. I still get up and fuss over the hairs that aren't going all the right ways, and do these shoes go with this dress and is my makeup okay. So there are Sundays when I'm fed up with the entire game, but not fed up enough to quit because I don't really know how to do that, I only know how to ignore it from time to time. I want to know. Where do all the issues go on Sunday?


I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
{philippians 4:12}

I took my kids to the pool today. Just offered it up. No "get this done and then we will go" or "you must do thus-and-such before we go" (these are my typical MOs). We went for a little over two hours, and I'll admit, I chatted with a friend and had fun. But enoughs enough, so I gathered up my little chicks and herded them out to the car. One chick was agreeable. The other chick didn't know why we couldn't stay at the pool all night, and why did we have to leave, and she didn't think she would be leaving just yet (did I tell you? she's turning 30 next month and can now make all her own choices), and why was I such an old lady that I couldn't stand spending more than an hour at the pool? (That last one was the last straw, but we won't get into the dets of the fallout.) Old lady. (And the shizz. That is so obvious.) Anyways, I finally looked at her and was all like "WHY CAN'T YOU BE CONTENT?" (Among other words and phrases.) And then I decided that we have given them too much and they don't appreciate anything and we are moving to Africa stat.

But the content question lingered in my head and in my soul way past the whole pool situation. I tried to ignore it but the word kept jabbing me in the brain. (That can happen. Just try to go to sleep with something weighing on your mind. Brain jabs.) Content. I've always read that verse from Philippians and imagined the tangible, the concrete. But the idea of being content in any and every situation has to include the visceral as well. To me, being content is settling for less, and I don't want to settle for less than anything. I want it all, because I can have it all. Or at least the dermatologists and the plastic surgeons and The People are all very good at promising you can have it all. But when you add that with the habit of comparison, then you have the perfect recipe for high expectations and low return.

And very low measure of contentedness.

A life in Christ is not a life without struggle. I think I expect it to be, and it's just not. Nobody ever promised "you will be struggle-free for life". Maybe that's scary for some people, and they think why would I ever friggin' choose that life over the one I currently struggle in? I mean, honestly, that is an excellent question. I've asked it. I've dealt with doubt and a lack of faith way more than I have walked the straight and narrow and faithful path. But here's the thing: a life in Christ may not be without struggle, but it is with hope. Hope is such a strong word, such a promising word, and it's a word we often think is for others but not for ourselves. To have hope and contentedness is almost as foreign as, I don't know, winning the lottery.

But in Christ it's possible.

As I think back on the shiny, happy people (holding hands), I have to think that they still deal with all the crap life throws. Maybe most aren't as shallow as I, although I know without a doubt that I am not the only female who deals with this whole beauty issue, and maybe some shiny, happy smiles are as fake as the WWE, but I think that some of us have taken hold of that hope and live in a way that shows that, no, life isn't fair, and no, I don't want to have to deal, and yes, I still have issues, but despite it all--yes, despite it all--I HAVE HOPE.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; 
my body will also rest in hope.
{acts 2:26}

Friday, July 10, 2015

Style

I cleaned out my closet recently, going by the Marie Kondo theory from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up--if you touch it and feel it and don't love it, then don't keep it.

I wish this also applied to things like homework and laundry.

Anyhow, I bagged up a few of my most precious items that, in fact, I do still love but can no long squeeze into, and took them to Playto's Closet. "And can you even believe," I lamented to my husband later, "that they didn't even take a single piece?????" This offends me.

That they didn't absolutely love my clothes and buy the entire bag escapes me. It defies logic. That pink dress? Adorable. Those black pants? Sexy. Those jeans? Hot. (Okay, I'll give on the jeans. They could be a notch down from hot.) "And if I could," I wailed to my friend Margo, "I would even be wearing all those clothes.* TODAY."

*I would so not be wearing that pink dress today. There comes a point in every man and woman's life when they have to say "enough", because it looks like you are trying waaaaay way to hard to look young. And that's worse than looking your age. If you need me to help you determine if your closet needs a makeover, call my sister. I'm not your girl.

"Are you talking about the same pink dress you wore to my 10 year high school reunion?" He asked me like I should have known. (For him to remember that means I should have labeled that dress sexy, hot and adorable.) "Like 15 years ago?"

I have a distinct feeling I will not like where this conversation is heading.

You mean teenagers don't want to wear a dress that looked totally cute in the year 2000? Preposterous.

When did I turn into my grandma?

we never go out of style
{taylor swift}

I have a picture of that dress floating somewhere around this house, but since all my pictures are thrown into boxes at present, finding it presents a challenge. Plus, I'd like to just refer to my memory on how cute that dress is rather than displaying it publicly. It works better that way. While looking, though, I found a few pictures that would rival a 2015 outfit any day of the week. Get ready for cuteness.

saucy!


At the All-Stars social on Tuesday night, a teenage girl showed up in short shorts pulled way up over her belly button and a swingy black crocheted crop-top. The opinion of the older couple standing right in front of me in line stood somewhere around TEENAGERS! with lots of huffing and sighing over the state of the world today, along with no wonder girls get comments, what does she expect, walking out of the house looking like that? and where are her parents?????? The straight lines of their mouths told me they thought--oh, no, they knew (yes, ma'am, they sure did) they were totally and completely right and also justified, and had she been walking toward them instead of away, they would have made their comments just a little bit louder so she could hear. Because obviously she needed to know. (I think they may have been Southern Baptists.) I couldn't help staring. (Not at the girl. The SOBs--stop. That's short for Southern Baptist, y'all.)  My mouth may have also been open.

Then I wondered if someone would have thought that about me and my pink dress? Hardly. Because it was very cute and fashionable. (Who says fashionable besides a 38 YO mother of two who can't wear her fashionable dress due to the size of her booty? Nobody.)

I guess something is only worth what someone will pay for it, no matter how wonderful the owner thinks it is. I predict hot pink dresses will make a strong comeback, in which case you better run on over to Goodwill and buy you one. (I would but I have a booty situation. Besides, overalls came back, didn't they? Which I rocked over and over again, thank you.)

that's me in the middle of my two besties in college
bonnie raitt--what





I hope I'm not one of those. You know who I'm talking about. The ones who still think their clothes are right in style--and they were, in 1983. All I'm saying is if it's time to give it up, tell me.

Have a great weekend:)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In The Future...

I think maybe I wasn't prepared for having a boy.

Maybe I'm the only person who thought having a boy would be an easy, breezy CoverGirl beautiful existence. And then he turned 10 and something happened.

For the majority of the afternoon, this boy has been sequestered in his room, probably playing Minecraft which I told him not to play. (We had what should have been a 45 minute doctor's appointment--I'm having a vein fixed--stretch into a two hour doctor's appointment. This makes zero people happy.This also forces people to resort to devices for entertainment because otherwise WHAT WOULD WE DO? Talk to each other? Close and confined spaces also bring out the worst in those two, who are dangerous and will bite and kick.) This means that for a lot of the time he has actually been awake on this day that nobody is happy about--and nobody is counting hours because we need to be distracted by other things than tallying hours on a device--he has been staring at a screen and building a world of weird blocks and dogs with red eyes that get mad.

It makes him verra unhappy to be torn away from his screen. Especially when he is being torn away from his screen under duress. And then is expected to wash his sheets and put his shoes away. 

I have a lot of nerve.

The chain of events today--starting with get ready, we are going to the doctor and ending with give me your Kindle and go get the sheets of your bed and go put your shoes away--turned him into A Very Mopey Kid. A Very Mopey Kid with an attitude.

This is annoying to me.

What happened to my sweet little boy who said "OTAY" when I asked him to be a big boy and help me with his sheets? Where did that guy go? Because this guy who trudges around bemoaning the fact that he is bored and there is nothing to do is not making the easy breezy picture I had in my head so easy anymore. Where does this moodiness come from? And better yet--boys are moody??

I expected it from the girl. Mood swings and manic laughter and sobbing and screaming and fits of rage and slamming doors and hi, I'm your best friend all in one glorious five-minute span is totally expected. (What I didn't expect was the absolute unreasonableness. Not at all.)

But this? This is like what? I don't even know how to deal.

So I offered to play rummy with him. That's a fine game to play, right? Apparently when you're in a mood, rummy should be accompanied by much mumbling and grouching and general bad-moodiness that you shouldn't have to explain.

Since the rummy didn't go so well, and winning didn't even bring a smile to his face, I focused my attention elsewhere, only to discover _____ minutes later that the boy had escaped to his room once more. Leading to a conversation from one floor to the other.

Come out of your room.

WHY????

(Why?)

Because you need to come out of your room.

WHY????

After considerable thought, I offered the best reason a parent can ever give.

Because I said you had to that's why. And das the only reason you need, man.

In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord your God has commanded you?" tell him: We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out with a mighty hand."
{deuteronomy 6:20}

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chalk Paint Lamps

Taking a little break from the norm. Mondays sometimes call for that.

Y'all know I like projects, right? These lamp renos have been such a hit (with me, honestly, I'm so proud of myself). Several people have been over and have asked how I painted them, so I thought I'd share on le blog today.

Here's what the lamp looked like before:




Annie Sloan makes several different colors, but you can't custom mix. You'll also need either Annie Sloan Clear Wax or Dark Wax (I used both). I used Old Ochre, which is basically cream, and then I sealed the paint with the clear wax.


The first coat should be thin. You don't need much paint on your brush. (I don't use the Annie Sloan paint brush, although you could. This is just a normal brush from Lowe's.)


The first coat should be thin and cover the entire surface.



Here's what the first coat looks like when it's finished.



After the first coat is dry, go ahead and start with the second, which can be a little thicker. For this lamp, I actually added a third coat because I didn't want any of the dark brass showing through. 



After I sealed the entire piece using the clear wax (buff and buff and buff that piece), I used a little bit of dark wax to highlight certain areas of the lamp. I didn't want it to look too distressed, so I stuck with a tiny bit. You can always use more, depending on the look you're going for.



After it was all dry and buffed, I ran to Target and found a lampshade that would fit. I put this lamp on a desk I have in my upstairs hallway, where my kids can draw and do art projects. (And homework, but who's doing that? Nobody.)


Here's a different angle of the same area. That chalk board is also painted with chalk paint and rubbed with dark and clear wax.



And since this area is rarely clean, here's what you don't see: all the mess I gathered up and tossed on the floor, where IT STILL SITS. Sometimes I have to shake my head at my people.


I'm painting the boy's bathroom vanity today. Get yourselves ready for a major super-awesome reveal. Coming--but not anytime soon, superwoman doesn't live here no mo'.







Sunday, July 5, 2015

Still Mad

I woke up yesterday morning still mad.

And then I had to remember what I was still mad about.

Oh, yes. Completely justified.

I am the wife that stays mad long past whatever crime was committed. I am the mom whose feelings stay hurt long after the words were said. I am the friend who can hold a grudge for eighteen years, three days, five hours and sixteen seconds past the date my feelings were hurt. I will still smile. I will still laugh. I will still spend time. I will play tennis and take a walk and go to church and lead bible study and drop off at baseball and ballet and fix dinner. There may be something there, something you can't quite put your finger on, but we will go on as if nothing ever happened.

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,
but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
{leviticus 19:18}

I didn't want to sit down and write today, I really didn't. Sometimes it's a confidence thing, sometimes it's a time thing, sometimes it's an emotional energy thing. Sometimes it's a am-I-seriously-going-to-tell-everyone-that-I-hold-eighteen-year-old-grudges thing. Because then I will not have any friends. I know I don't have to say anything I don't want to, but part of writing is being authentic, and really, how many times do you want to read about how to cook chicken? I'm not knocking anyone else's blog; Lord knows I have no room to be prideful or boastful about mine, but I do feel like we relate better when we know honesty.

There comes a time in every person's life where one must accept responsibility for one's own actions. This mean no more blaming parents/teachers/pastors/friends/everyone else for all the things that went wrong in life. I am a top-notch blamer. If my mom hadn't been such a yeller....if my dad had been more emotionally available....if someone had just given me the chance to shine....then life in 2015 would be swell and perfect, wouldn't it? Me thinks life in 2015 would probably be very similar to what it is right now, despite the yelling. Of course, that's just my opinion and I have absolutely no basis for that, other than to reason that I was born to two imperfect parents, who raised me in an imperfect world full of mistakes and difficulties.

In barre class last week, Whitney Houston's How Will I Know came on, and someone (was it me?) mentioned the sad situation that is the Houston/Brown legacy. "It all went downhill when she met Bobby Brown," someone commented, and we all bobbed our heads in agreement. Mmmmmm-hmmmm. Except one of us (it was not me this time) mentioned that Whitney Houston actually had a head on her shoulders and made her own choices

Which is what I'm doing when I hold a grudge and think I don't like somebody very much but can't actually remember why. Making a choice, albeit not the best one, but still. My choice. My responsibility.

Sometimes people make me so mad. Holding onto anger for me is like pulling on an old leather glove. Fits perfectly and is comfortable to boot.

You remember your first love, where you just gave your whole heart away, and then that person took it and stomped on it and then you said, well. I'll be damned if I ever do that again. 

Holding onto anger is like putting up a wall. You put up enough of them and you don't have to deal with things a) because you can't feel anything anyway and b) because you won't ever get close enough to someone to be hurt. You can keep someone at arm's length and stay sane. Because letting them in could mean disaster, could mean hurt, could mean losing yourself.

I've never been that person--that super-fun totally, really cool person that everyone wants to hang out with. Some innocent comments made about me today kind of reinforced that concept: we are super-fun and wild and crazysexycool and you are...not. The thing is I've always kind of wanted to be that super-fun, totally, really cool person that everyone wants to hang out with, and I feel alone because I'm not so much. (I mean, I think I'm cool, that's just not an opinion that has gotten really popular yet.)

It's easier for me to build walls and keep everyone at a distance, because then if something hurtful, or even catastrophic, does happen, I tend to reason that it would be easier to deal with. Investing in relationships takes such an emotional toll on us, it really does. And sometimes I only want to invest a part of me, because all of me would be too much, and I feel like I would drown and lose myself. And to a girl who feels like maybe, just maybe, she still hasn't exactly ever found herself, losing herself would be too much to bear.

Maybe we are all just trying to find solid ground to stand.

If you grew up in church, you probably know the hymn that goes on Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is siiiiiiiiiiinking saaaaaaaaaaaaaand. And if you grew up in a pretty traditional church, you had the choir to draw out the last two words and the aaaaaaaa-meeeeeeeeeeeeeeen. (Now that I go to a church without a choir, I kinda miss that.)

It took me forever to grasp the concept of Christ as the "solid rock". I sometimes think I never really wanted to know what it meant, because I never really wanted to know Christ. I wanted to go to heaven for sure, because the alternative sounded miserable, and if there is no heaven or hell, then I was safe anyways--kind of a CYA thing I guess, but to know Him wasn't really an interest of mine, and besides, I knew all the rules of religion. Don't cuss, don't have sex, don't drink, don't do drugs, don't smoke, don't gossip (but do gossip during a prayer request, because that's totally okay), obey your parents, follow the rules, blah blah blah. Rules. I wanted somebody who could get me out of binds and get me into heaven, not somebody to make me follow a bunch of unfun rules. And besides all that, there was all this talk about giving your heart away, and for a person like me, giving your heart away really is akin to drowning (I wasn't kidding when I said that before), whether that be in sorrow or rage or uncertainty or depression or anxiety, and I'm not so into that.  So I looked to other ways of finding solid ground, a way to make me stand out and feel good about myself. But, I have yet to actually find that thing, that one thing that will make me a super-star {insert clumsy jump, hands under armpits, then to nose, a la one Mary Katherine Gallagher}, so I can have confidence and I don't have to worry about losing myself so much because I will have found me.

It is so frustrating and exhausting to be on that never-ending search for salvation.

Whoever finds their life will lose it
And whoever loses their life for my sake 
Will find it.
{matthew 10:39}

But all this grasping for something is like grasping for straws, which is essentially grasping for nothing, and nothing is not all that filling, which leaves a person empty and building more emotional walls.  See, I'm just as lost as the next person, with my own habits and hang-ups and sins and errors. (Which is why the whole "us against them" mentality doesn't work with me. I've heard it. People mention the latest political gossip to me in the hopes that I will agree with bigotry and hate, and I can't. I just can't. Because I am that person I am pointing a finger at, I am the person I am throwing a stone at, I am the person who is in desperate need of saving. So I can't. People who have invested way more time and money than I ever have in research and classes and studying and seminary can probably shoot a bunch of holes all in my theory, but the way I see it, I am them. So I can't be against them. It's us.)

So please don't judge me
And I won't judge you
'Cause it could get ugly
Before it gets beautiful.
{chris brown}

But in the process of all that grasping at straws and nothingness, the most beautiful, most astounding, most life-changing thing happened. I found out what Christ the Rock really means. Solid ground can't be found in things that are always changing. (That's the world, if you didn't know what I meant. The world is always changing. Nothing ever stays the same.) But Christ is unchanging--he is the same today, yesterday and forever (hebrews 13:8). So little by very little, I've started putting weight on that Rock, just to see. First my big toe. When that seemed safe, my foot. Then my leg. And instead of falling, He has given me a place to stand.

This very well may be the longest blog post in the history of Finding Security In Him, and if you've made it all the way to the very end, I congratulate you. Through a sea of words about building walls and anger management issues and blame and searching for salvation, with a few straws thrown in for good measure, I hope you got one thing to ponder tonight: Christ the Rock. Christ the Redeemer.

Christ my Rock.
Christ my Redeemer.

Christ.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Perfect Life

My heart feels a little unsettled at I sit here, wondering what to type and how to type it. There are days when it seems like even the sun is shining my way, and then there are days I don't even see the sun. Today isn't like either of those, actually. It's just a normal day with normal stuff happening, yet I can't get rid of this agitated feeling way down in the pit of my stomach.

I think part of the reason is that my Type A personality doesn't like to relax. (It has only been in the last few weeks that I have really begun to realize that I am a Type A personality. Up until this point in life, I have occasionally wondered, but not enough to really care. Then during a random conversation about randomness, a friend said to me "Let me guess, you are Type A with perfectionist tendencies" and I was like "weeeeeellll, I don't know, I'm not all that organized", but when I relayed that conversation to my sister, she snorted into the phone and laughed. "At least Type A is not how you see yourself", she said. Oh. Hm. I guess my labeled fridge was a clue to my Type A tendencies. The funniest thing is when people put things back in the fridge and go "I didn't know where to put it." The whole thing is labeled. And don't try to put the ketchup with the dressing. I will catch it every single time.  Just ask the fam. They love this about me.) I keep thinking I'd like to pick up the book I've been reading, because Grace is really starting to pick up the pieces after her divorce, but I can't seem to get ahead with laundry and dishes and Lord knows Jack's room has been patiently awaiting the final touches on it's makeover, so I push those sit down and read thoughts aside and give myself a spunky pep-talk about real life and getting things done and who do you think you are anyway, Nikki Newman? (Yes, I'll take a scotch in evening wear at 10AM.)

I love Apple. I love the Apple Family Share plan, where kids can have their own AppleID, but all requests must go through--you guessed it--me. And if I don't approve it, she don't get it. She also don't like this set-up so much, but I just tell her "Hey, you know, it's the way Apple set it up. Don't blame me." Anyways, one of the apps she recently requested was an app that counts your followers, your likes, your unfollows, and tells you if you're more popular than your friends on Instagram. (Rated okay for ages 4+, it was pointed out to me.) So I see this as a) trouble, b) stupid and c) trouble. So of course I politely declined her request, which sends a text back to her iPod, informing her of my decision. I really love that communication has been reduced to texting each other, especially when we are in the same house. Especially especially when we are in the same room. (Don't pretend you haven't done that.)

She doesn't let things like that slip past unnoticed.

"Moo-oooo-oooo-ooom," she started. (Sometimes I don't want to hear that word called "mom".) "You said I couldn't get that app!"

Clearly. Not news to me.

I don't like rates and all that nonsense on Instagram. I don't like kids comparing and seeing who's more popular. It would make me feel bad, as I assume I would probably one of the ones who wouldn't get a lot of likes, and from the news that makes headlines, it would seem it's been making other people feel bad, too. Teen suicide, especially due to bullying and hate, is a scary, scary thing. Anyways, I simply told her that something like that would make me feel bad and might make other people feel bad, so, in a word. No.

A little bit of drama has occurred this week, which is why you haven't heard from me. Tuesday afternoon I rolled over a screw, which embedded itself in my tire, slowly leaking enough air that my sensor caught it and warned me AIR IN RR TIRE LOW. Which what am I supposed to do with that when I'm rushing around trying to get people everywhere they need to be? That is an annoying message to get right when you are trying to leave.  I went to Paint Nite with a RR TIRE LOW. Have y'all done Paint Nite? I'm still iffy on the whole concept of mixing alcohol and painting, but mine turned out well enough to store in the back of the basement. (I had thought perhaps I could manage a painting. I mean, I like to draw, right, so it made sense in my head that a painting would turn out exactly as I thought it should. (Read: perfect.)) By the time I got home, my tire pressure was so low that I thought it would be good to change it for the spare so it wouldn't be totally flat in the morning. The guy I love who actually had to change the tire at 10PM wasn't so thrilled about it.

But honestly, most of the drama has been in my own head. Sometimes we think there is drama or we seek out drama where it doesn't exist. And then what was a normal day becomes this big thing. And part of my thing this week was I can't paint and I can't write with big imaginary emoji frowny faces at the end. I suppose I connected the two because I thought I could and sometimes it doesn't turn out perfect so I think I can't. Or I compare to what someone else has done or painted or written and then I think I really, definitely can't. So then I don't, and it becomes a thing.

I don't think life always has to become a thing.

This is why I have decided (today) to just accept a few things about myself and life and then move on. It's so much easier than dwelling on a thing.

1. I might have a Type A, perfectionist personality. I don't have to fight myself on what I think I am versus what I actually am anymore. I am a work in progress.
2. I'm allowed to say No to my child and have that be the final say. Just no. Parent. Child. NO.
3. Rating each other is a bad idea.
4. Flat tires happen. Firestone can typically help.
5. Paint Nite isn't for everybody. It's okay.
6. I like to write, so I do.
7. Perfection does not exist. Not here, anyway.

It's the weekend. It doesn't have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

Have a happy 4th!